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Drivers of diversity and community structure of bees in an agroecological region of Zimbabwe

Cite this dataset

Tarakini, Gugulethu; Chemura, Abel; Tarakini, Tawanda; Musundire, Robert (2022). Drivers of diversity and community structure of bees in an agroecological region of Zimbabwe [Dataset]. Dryad.


Worldwide bees provide an important ecosystem service of plant pollination. Climate change and land-use changes are among drivers threatening bee survival with mounting evidence of species decline and extinction. In developing countries, rural areas constitute a significant proportion of the country’s land but information is lacking on how different habitat types and weather patterns in these areas influence bee populations.

This study investigated how weather variables and habitat-related factors influence the abundance, diversity, and distribution of bees across seasons in a farming rural area of Zimbabwe. Bees were systematically sampled in five habitat types (natural woodlots, pastures, homesteads, fields, and gardens) recording ground cover, grass height, flower abundance, and types, tree abundance and recorded elevation, temperature, light intensity, wind speed, wind direction, and humidity. Zero-inflated models, censored regression models, and PCAs were used to understand the influence of explanatory variables on bee community composition, abundance, and diversity.

Bee abundance was positively influenced by the number of plant species in flower (P < 0.0001). Bee abundance increased with increasing temperatures up to 28.50C but beyond this, the temperature was negatively associated with bee abundance. Increasing wind speeds marginally decreased the probability of finding bees.

Bee diversity was highest in fields, homesteads, and natural woodlots compared to other habitats, and the contributions of the genus Apis were disproportionately high across all habitats. The genus Megachile was mostly associated with homesteads while Nomia was associated with grasslands.

Synthesis and applications. Our study suggests that some bee species could become more proliferous in certain habitats thus compromising diversity and consequently ecosystem services. These results highlight the importance of setting aside bee-friendly habitats that can be refuge sites for species susceptible to land-use changes.


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